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Kenneth Cole moves smartwatches in fashionable direction with wearables collection

Kenneth Cole hopes to grab some of the excitement around wearables for itself by rolling out a smartwatch collection that arrives in twelve styles and enables users to take selfies, suggesting that more fashion brands will begin to permeate the wearables space.

The fashion brand has teamed up with Geneva Watch Group for Kenneth Cole Connect, which is set to launch in stores in April. As Apple introduces its iWatch, more brands are seeking to take advantage of the new technology that allows consumers to control their smartphones remotely as well as make a fashion statement with the accessories.

?It is no secret that the adoption of wearable tech has been slowed down by the tech community?s limited fashion sense,? said Shuli Lowy, marketing director at Ping Mobile, New York. ?Kenneth Cole?s release of a smartwatch is a big step in the right direction.

?The fashion community must realize that wearable tech is here and if they can?t figure out how to make their products smart they will lose market share in certain product categories,? she said. ?The roll out of Kenneth Cole Connect will not only position Kenneth Cole as forward thinking but also establish the brand as a leader in bridging the gap between fashion and tech.?

Fashionable technology
While wearables are certainly a hot topic for 2015, brands are attempting to combat consumers? concerns that the smartwatches are not stylish. The Kenneth Cole Connect collection will offer 12 different simple styles to customers with app-enabled capabilities so that users can stay constantly connected to the barrage of texts, calls and calendar invites via alerts on the smartwatch.

Consumers will be able to take selfies longer than their arms with the wearable, as Kenneth Cole Connect lets the users control their mobile device?s camera and snap photos directly from their wrists. As ?selfie sticks? become a larger trend, customers will likely appreciate this functionality.

?The selfie feature is certainly a highlight of the Kenneth Cole Connect,? Ms. Lowy said. ?It allows the watch to take on some of the functionality which consumers get with a selfie stick?allowing people to carry one less gadget around.

?The simple yet useful capability is sure to resonate with consumers and their growing tendency to take selfies.?

The Kenneth Cole Connect smartwatches also feature a stopwatch, 3 ATM water resistance, alerts when smartphone battery is low and ?Don?t Leave Me? alerts that inform wearers of a lost Bluetooth connection.

The wearables will also function on normal watch batteries so that no chargers are needed.

The fashion brand, which was founded in 1982 and includes men?s and women?s clothing and accessories lines, introduced the Connect collection at international watch and jewelry trade show Baselworld in March.

Attendees were able to duck into a photo booth to showcase their favorite Connect smartwatch and share the photos across social media platforms in real-time. The brand saw 13, 217 impressions in three days.

Fashion wearables and marketing
While consumers may appreciate the fashion-forward smartwatch styles that brands are sure to roll out, some experts predict that these stylish wearables will actually impede short-term mobile marketing, according to a report from Juniper Research (see story).

As wearables permeate the mobile device space, marketers may find it more difficult to deduce which screens they should target consumers on, with which messages.

However, they will also have the upside of helping brands track data more efficiently and will likely help marketing in the long-term.

?The fashion community knows best how to get people to wear things,? Ms. Lowy said. ?The tech community is best equipped to create an amazing digital user experience.

?In order for wearable tech to achieve broader adoption we need a deeper collaboration between the fashion community and the tech community,? she said. ?Kenneth Cole is not equipped to attract the best developers and Samsung?s forte is not the runway.

?Ultimately we?re going to need to bring the two communities together to deliver wearable tech that truly looks beautiful and delivers an incredible UX.?

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York